Nationally and Locally, Afterschool Programs Struggle

A report from the Afterschool Alliance highlights another example of programs experiencing decreased funding and increased demand.  This challenge, already felt by mental health providers and food banks, is also affecting afterschool and summer programs.  Uncertain Times 2012: Afterschool Programs Still Struggling in Today’s Economy discusses the results of a study examining the impact of the economy on afterschool programs for youth, noting  that although they provide a popular and worthy service, their budgets continue to dwindle.

The study found that programs in urban, suburban and rural areas are all struggling with less funding and increased demand for their services.  Additional findings:

  • Nearly 40 percent of programs surveyed reported budgets that are “in worse shape” currently than in the midst of the recession four years ago.  Specifically, 68 percent of programs serving a mostly African-American  population and 65 percent of  those serving a mostly Latino population reported diminished  funds compared to three years ago.
  • Over half of the programs (58 percent) reported being at or above maximum capacity with 36 percent maintained a waiting list. Demand for afterschool programs serving African-American and Latino children was reported to be even higher.  Among  programs serving primarily African-American youth,  65 percent were at or above maximum capacity, and 41 percent had a waiting list. Among those serving primarily Latino children, 70 percent were at or above maximum capacity and 48 percent had a waiting list.

The Pittsburgh Project, a nonprofit community development organization on Pittsburgh’s North Side, is featured in this report as an example of the real-world impact of economic conditions on a local program.  Since the economic downturn, the Pittsburgh Project has experienced  a 40 percent decrease in their budget resulting in staff layoffs, reduced hours, fewer children served and the elimination of many program activities.

As the Cliff Looms, Experts Weigh In

Since a stroll off of the fiscal cliff now appears more likely as pre-Christmas negotiations ended without an agreement, I thought I’d bring you a brief  roundup of what such an event may mean to nonprofits from sector experts far more prescient than this blogger.

To put it in simplest terms, nonprofits are concerned with the cliff because going over it will trigger caps on itemized deductions, including charitable donations, likely resulting in a decrease in donations, and therefore overall revenue, to their organization. In a time of increased need and decreased government funding (likely to drop more in the face of additional cuts),  this is a potentially serious situation.





There is a chance that after the 26th, dueling proposals and related negotiations will be revisited and all of the hyperventilating will be moot.  Or maybe not.  Do you think donations to your nonprofit will decline substantially if a federal cap on deductions is enacted?   If so, how do you plan to face this change? 



Child Welfare Court-Ordered Reforms – A Best Practice?

The role of courts in demanding change from the child welfare system is not a new one.  However,  in the paper Court-Based Child Welfare Reforms: Improved Child/Family Outcomes and Potential Cost Savings, Liz Thornton, a Staff Attorney for the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law, finds evidence that such reforms have resulted in both lower fiscal costs and improved child welfare outcomes.

Several case studies are presented to discuss court-ordered changes including those around service accessibility, family treatment and improvements to child welfare system processes or practices. Of interest to Pennsylvanians may be the American Bar Association’s Permanency Barriers Project which, according to the brief, resulted in 20 PA counties reducing the average time by youth spent in foster care by 9 months, resulting in a significant cost savings.

The complete brief is available for download at the First Focus website.


Fast Facts about the 2012-13 Pennsylvania Budget

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has released several briefs on the 2012-13 PA budget, including their analysis on the cuts, credits and potential impact of the budget on Pennsylvania residents.  Budget highlights:

  • Final budget total amount is $27.656 billion (an increase of $517 million compared to Governor Corbett’s earlier proposal).
  •  Overall, General Fund spending was down 1.4 percent from 2010-11. Notable spending cuts include,  classroom education (a decrease of 9.6 percent), labor and industry (a decrease of 13.5 percent), community and economic development (a decrease of 18.5 percent) and environment (decrease of 20.4 percent).
  • Other areas of major cuts: human services (specifically mental health, homeless assistance), higher education and the end of the General Assistance Program – a program that gave temporary support to over 68,000 Pennsylvanians who were sick or disabled.

Visit The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center website for  analysis and commentary on the 2012-13 budget and the latest news on policy in Pennsylvania.